Ranakpur and Udaipur

The journey South to Udaipur was likely to take 4-5 hours so we set off at around 10am. After a few hours the landscape changed from the flat, dry terrain we had become used to, to a distinctly hilly and green one. with the road becoming ever more winding Shortly after this change, we arrived at the Jain temple complex at Ranakpur where we stopped for a visit.

The Jain religion seems to have been a precursor to Hinduism. The sun was so strong that the white marble steps at the entrance to the temple were almost unbearably hot on our bare feet after taking off our shoes to enter the temple. We were greeted by the high priest who daubed a yellow mark on our foreheads in exchange for a donation. The temples were beautifully carved from white stone, with each of the 1,114 pillars having unique carvings. The idols in the temple all have mother of pearl eyes, making them shine out from their dark, recessed alcoves.

The car park was also the haunt of some white-furred and black-faced langur monkeys, who seemed to delight on sitting with the luggage on top of jeeps and vans with their long tails hanging down over the side.

Another hour or so saw us reach the outskirts of Udaipur. After stopping to get directions to Lal Ghat a couple of times we reached our hotel, the Kankarwa Haveli which is right by the shoreline of the lake.

Udaipur is famous for the white palace in the middle of Lake Pichola, which was also used as the backdrop in the James Bond film “Octopussy” (not seen it myself). Due to a rather dry year, the water level of the lake is very low, so that the Lake Palace is no longer in the middle of the lake; it now sits on the shore and is reachable by foot.

The hotel is another excellent one. Our first night was spent in one of the cheaper rooms, which was quite frankly excellent value for money.

There’s a terrace on top of the hotel with great views of the lake, Lake Palace (now a Taj Group Hotel), and the City Palace which towers over the city. Further away you can also see the Monsoon Palace at the top of a nearby hill, which was abandoned on completion when the builders realised it wasn’t possible to get a water supply to it, and what appears at first to be another vast palace but which turns out to be the two Oberoi hotels which were recently built.

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